Longtime Towson favorite Cafe Troia (31 W. Allegheny Ave., 410-337-0133) has officially moved to better, bigger digs across the street from its old location. The "ribbon cutting" was last Thursday. Carol Troia, who owns the restaurant with her daughter Lisa Troia Martin, said the new place holds 30 percent more diners. There's a larger bar and a "beautiful, new, updated, larger kitchen."
The new kitchen has a charbroiler, which means more steaks and chops have been added to the Italian menu. "It's the same staff," said Troia, "but a more comfortable facility."
The new Troia has slightly different hours. It's open 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until midnight Friday and Saturday, and closed Sunday. If you're looking for a last-minute place for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, you might give Cafe Troia a call. Dinner starts at 4 p.m., and turkey will be served as well as Italian food.
It's different Big changes are happening at Juniors (1117 S. Charles St., 410-727-1212) in Federal Hill. The restaurant is barely a year old, but the kitchen has already experienced a lot of churn. Now Anthony Marini has been hired as executive concept chef (no, not a title you see much around here). Marini has an impressive resume, including owning two of his own restaurants in Birmingham, Ala. He also started a restaurant consulting firm before moving here.
I asked him what changes he had made at Juniors, and if it was still a wine bar. The Web site (juniorswinebar.com) now describes the place as a "neighborhood gastropub."
Marini didn't say it wasn't a wine bar, but "the focus is a small wine list with great choices," he said. "Most wine bars have a large selection."
He's also shortened the menu, which was 30 or so dishes, to just 16. It's locally focused and changes every day.
"I don't have a style," he said when I asked him to describe his cooking. "It's eclectic. I'm buying what I like and what excites me and putting it on the menu."
That might be the $100 Potatoes, which - whew - cost $14. They are fried in duck fat and come with truffle-scallion puree, creme fraiche, farm bacon and caviar. Or 18-hour braised pork belly tacos.
Sound too exotic for you? The sliders with bistro fries are the most popular item, he told me. As for cost, there's only one dish on the current menu more expensive than $20.
A merger Tsunami (1300 Bank St.), east of Little Italy and another relative newcomer, closed its doors a couple of weeks ago.
The answering machine says the Pan-Asian restaurant has "merged" with Lemongrass, its sister restaurant next door.
"There wasn't enough of a point of difference," said co-owner Gavin Buckley. Lemongrass, a Thai restaurant, flourished, while its sibling struggled.
Look for the sushi Tsunami was known for to move to Lemongrass with the opening of a new sushi bar soon. Meanwhile, Buckley said, the owners are planning to open either an Australian gastropub or a Mexican-Latino restaurant in the Tsunami space this spring.
Deal of the week City Cafe (1001 Cathedral St., 410-539-4252) is offering several "Recession Buster" specials. The most noteworthy are half-priced burgers on Monday nights (dine-in only) and $14.95 New York strip steaks (normally $23) Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with half-price bottles of wine.